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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Mar 26, 2008
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4 Blog Posts

Let's take break from the here and now and spend a few moments looking back at Big Moments in Nationals Park History, as reported here on JDLand. This is kind of long, but you younguns and latecomers who didn't follow it all from the beginning might find this timeline of interest.
* Sept. 21, 2004, I posted this wonderfully understated entry: "Baseball coming to Near Southeast? "District officials disclosed plans yesterday to build a publicly financed stadium costing more than $400 million on the Anacostia waterfront near South Capitol Street, amid growing signs that Major League Baseball will attempt to move the Montreal Expos to Washington." It doesn't mean that baseball in DC is a done deal, or that the Near Southeast site is a done deal, but it's a very interesting decision, and one that would have a huge impact on Near Southeast if it were to happen." I got that right.
* April 1, 2005: "As expected, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission has chosen HOK Sport (along with Devrouax & Purnell Architects/Planners of DC) as the architects for the new Nationals baseball stadium. They promise a design that will "change the paradigm of ballparks" and will be "iconic and truly distinctive to Washington, D.C."
* May 15, 2005, a fond memory of the old-school JDLand days: "As a heads up, I'm not going to follow here on the site every twist and turn of the Nationals baseball stadium funding saga. The bickering over costs and land acquisition and whatnot leaves me totally cold. [H]ere at JDLand I'll just be concentrating on news of the design and construction."
* Aug. 5, 2005: "According to yesterday's Washington Times, officials at the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission still maintain, despite "a growing wave of pessmism among bidding groups seeking to buy the club," that the new baseball stadium will be ready for the 2008 season."
* Sept. 19, 2005: "Anyone who's lived in DC for any amount of time will be stunned to read today's Post story, "As Stadium Clock Ticks, DC Officials Bicker," detailing the difficulties of getting a design for the new baseball stadium agreed upon. Much of the trouble revolves around the desire (pushed most vehemently by Jack Evans) to have views of the Capitol Dome from as many seats at the stadium as possible."
* Oct. 18, 2005: "DC Council Chair Linda Cropp has signaled that she will block any attempts at significant alternations to the baseball stadium financing package[....] Says [Kathy] Patterson: "The District is at some risk of not being taken seriously as a government if we renege on the deal we have. That said, we negotiated a lousy deal.""
* Jan. 27, 2006: "WTOP is reporting that the city and Major League Baseball have reached agreement on negotiations over the stadium lease agreement."
* Feb. 7, 2006: Three entries (including my first-ever liveblogging) detailing the rollercoaster day in front of the DC Council that started with the stadium lease agreement being voted down before a long recess resulted in a return to approve it, with the cost cap in place.
* March 14, 2006: The stadium design is unveiled. How close are the original drawings to how it's turned out?
* March 22, 2006: "Both the Post and the Blade report that Judge Zeldon has ordered the eviction of the last remaining stadium landowner holdouts, including the gay bars on O Street owned by Robert Siegel. Siegel, plus the trash transfer station at 1st and N also covered under yesterday's order, have until April 4 to vacate."
* April 25, 2006: "Thanks to a tip from a correspondent, I can confirm that there is now demolition underway at the ballpark site, at its southernmost corner (South Capitol and P and Potomac). "
* May 3, 2006: "Everyone's now reporting that the ownership group led by DC-area developer Theodore Lerner has officially been picked as the owners of the Nationals."
* May 4, 2006, the Groundbreaking Ceremony: "The riff-raff-o-meter at the gate of the stadium groundbreaking was apparently malfunctioning, allowing me to get in and witness this morning's festivities."
And, just like that, here we are. If you want to read more (I didn't even touch the months of let's-try-private-financing, let's-do-it-at-RFK-instead, and the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness), use my Search page, click "Baseball Stadium" in the topic box, and pick a date range to browse.

The Nationals have just sent out a press release with information on what fans will be greeted with (other than, you know, a baseball game) when they arrive at Nationals Park on Sunday. The highlights:
* The gates will open at 3:30 pm (and the Nats Express shuttle from RFK starts running at 3:00), and everyone will receive a Curly W lanyard and a "Welcome Home" rally towel. The Sheiks of Dixie (a local Dixieland jazz band) will be greeting fans exiting the subway at the reopened west entrance of the Navy Yard station at Half and M. (Half Street will be closed to vehicles, as will N Street east of Van and First Street south of M.) A barbershop quartet will also be installed on Half Street.
* There's even more once you get inside:"Face painters, balloon artists and stilt walkers will welcome fans at the entrance to the Center Field Plaza. Additional Opening Night entertainment may be found inside the ballpark, including the Mambo Combo, a regional zydeco band, Washington, DC guitarist Brian Gross staged in the Lexus Presidents Club, and face painters, caricaturists and balloon artists throughout the Main Concourse." The Braves will start batting practice at 4:30 and the Nats at 5:45.
* Pre-game ceremonies will start at 7:45 pm, which will include a flyover by four F-16s from the 121st Fighter Squadron of the DC Air National Guard, the singing of the national anthem by native Washingtonian Denyce Graves, and the throwing of the first pitch by President Bush. There will also be a new tradition of starting the game with "Washington.... Let's Play Ball!" to be intoned this first time by Mayor Fenty.
* American Idol alum Elliot Yamin will perform "God Bless America" prior to the Seventh Inning Stretch.
And, an answer to a question lots of people have been asking:
* "Grandstand tickets for Opening Night, in Sections 401 and 402, may be purchased for $5 at the Nationals Park Main Box Office, located on Half and N Streets, beginning at 3:30 pm on March 30. Fans may not camp out on Nationals Park grounds or line up for tickets prior to 3:00 pm. Fans may purchase only one ticket per person and must immediately enter the ballpark through the Center Field gates, located next to the Main Box Office."
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(I'm not sure there's anyone who is wishing more than me that the dang thing would open already....)
* The Examiner looks at Southwest residents just across from the ballpark who are selling the parking spaces that came with their homes to Nats fans for as much as $3,000 a season. But if you park near these houses and don't have a visitors pass (or aren't one of the chosen few who fork over the dough for these private spaces), expect the residents to call DPW to have you ticketed and towed.
* The Post's newly reconstituted DC Wire blog catches up with Ken Wyban, the only resident homeowner on the ballpark footprint to lose his house when the city invoked eminent domain to take over the land. (City Paper talked to him a few weeks ago in their big ballpark Winners and Losers cover story.)
* Reader Sean alerts us that the Express has a special section on the ballpark today too. Looks like a bunch of the pieces are available here.
* Even the Annapolis Capitol newspaper gets in on the fun with its own overview of the ballpark, though they get a demerit for misspelling South Capitol Street and for mentioning the "Southeast neighborhoods west of the ballpark." (Uh.....)
* WTOP talks about the plans for security around the ballpark, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $1.2 million.
* And, just as I'm finishing this up, I see that has a new article about the preparations and plans for this weekend's festivities.
Apparently the beautifying of the neighborhood is underway, too--the black fence along Half Street at the Monument hole in the ground now has art on it (see 55 M web cam) as well as banners on the upper floors of 55 M facing the ballpark, and the Stadium web cam shows a "Welcome Home Nats" sign on the side of 100 M. The recent jet-black paint job on the old Domino's at 1200 South Capitol is part of this, too, and look for more Monument Realty "art" around all of its holdings.

* If you're a collector of these things, you may want to get to your street corner and pick up today's Examiner, which has a special section on Nationals Park, including all sorts of details on food, how to get there, etc. etc. In the meantime, here's the PDF version (the section starts on page 21). The Post will have a similar one (tomorrow, I think?).
* Also, word has gone out from DDOT that beginning at 8 pm there will be lane closures on the northbound 14th Street Bridge to install directional signage for the stadium. It's expected that all lanes will be reopened by 5 am Thursday.
* And, in other news, Bruce has now added a photo credit. Danke....
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